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Rouhani: West has made 'strategic blunders'

September 25, 2014

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has kicked off day two of the UN General Assembly with a promise to carry out nuclear talks "in good faith" with Western powers - which he blamed for "blunders" in the Middle East.

Hassan Rohani
Image: Reuters

In a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday, Rouhani said a deal on Iran's contested nuclear program was possible before November's deadline. Tehran and world powers have been trying for almost a year to negotiate a permanent solution to the program, after extending their deadline this July.

He called on the West to be "flexible," saying Iran should be allowed a peaceful nuclear program for energy production. An agreement, Rouhani said, would create a new environment "for cooperation at regional and international levels, allowing for greater focus on some very important regional issues such as combating violence and extremism in the region."

"We are determined to continue negotiations with our interlocutors in earnest and good faith, based on mutual respect and confidence. Any delay in arriving at a final agreement only raises the costs," Rouhani said.

He also spoke about the US-led coalition against jihadists in Iraq and Syria, blaming the West for "strategic blunders" that created terror havens.

"The strategic blunders of the West in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucasus have turned these parts of the world into a haven for terrorists and extremists," said Rouhani.

He blamed the rise of violent extremism on "certain states" and "intelligence agencies." While this was one danger, Rouhani said, it created another - the "fertile ground for further intervention of foreign forces in our region."

"Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hands of madmen, who now spare no one. The right solution to this quandry comes from within the region and a regionally provided solution with international support, and not from outside the region," Rouhani said.

The Iranian president's speech comes a day after he held historic talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron. London severed diplomatic ties with Iran after activists stormed its embassy in Tehran in late 2011.

Late last month, Iran missed a deadline to answer questions about its nuclear program. Tehran was supposed to answer questions on several suspicious research programs and provide information on high explosives testing and computer simulation work until August 25.

jr/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)